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16/12/2022 | Article

West Africa migration: Red Cross offers an oasis of help and hope to migrants in Kolda, Senegal

"They are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse, security risks, sexual and gender-based violence, and all kinds of dangers along their migratory routes; here we offer them hope, as well as protection, assistance, guidance and counselling”. This is how Mariama Mballo, a social worker, sums up the work carried out at the Kolda Humanitarian Service Point (HSP) run by the Senegalese Red Cross and IFRC in southern Senegal. "The Kolda HSP is a centre for listening, psychosocial support, counselling and assistance for migrants. It offers an anonymous, confidential and free space for reception and counselling", says the 30-year-old sociologist by training, who has been working there since February 2022. Senegal, historically considered a destination country for migrants in West Africa, has become a transit country. Due to its geographical location, migrants, especially those coming from West Africa, pass through Senegal on their journey north to Maghreb countries or Europe in search of a better life. The importance of psychosocial support Travelling along perilous migration routes can have a profound impact on both the physical and mental health of migrants. The aim of the psychosocial support provided in Kolda is to help people on the move regain a certain normality, mental balance and, above all, to encourage people to be active and committed to their own recovery—by finding defence and protection mechanisms that work for them. When migrants in transit have needs that cannot be met at the HSP, they are referred to other external partner services. "The key to the project is its volunteers, in fact, they are the 'front door', the ones who first receive the migrants, listen to them and then direct them to the social worker for an active and in-depth listening", stresses Mariama. Staff working in Kolda can also sometimes become overwhelmed when listening to the experiences recounted to them by migrants during counselling sessions. “Yes, there are stories that shock us, but we have the capacity to overcome them in order to offer migrants the guidance and support they need," says Mariama. Meeting people’s wide-ranging needs People on the move can access other vital assistance, such as food and water, in Kolda. Many migrants who arrive, including women and children, have gone days without food as they undertake their long journeys through often inhospitable areas. Kolda's volunteers and staff also offer people useful advice and counselling on issues such as human trafficking, regaining contact with their families or the handling of important travel documents. And, if necessary, migrants can also receive legal assistance, always with the utmost confidentiality and protection, as well as basic help with clothing and hygiene in order to ensure their health and well-being. "The people who arrive at the HSP are often in a situation of advanced vulnerability, so we do everything we can to immediately meet their most pressing needs," says Mariama. Volunteers don’t just support migrants. They also carry out intensive work with the local community to raise awareness and knowledge about respect for the rights and dignity of migrants. This important work is carried out with the utmost confidentiality, always in line with our fundamental principles and the IFRC’s migration policy. Assistance and protection of the most vulnerable migrants in West Africa Kolda is just one example of the more than 600 Humanitarian Service Points run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies along the world’s main migration routes. They are neutral spaces that provide a welcoming and safe environment for migrants to access essential services, regardless of their status and without fear of being detained or reported to the authorities. Since the launch of the Kolda HSP en 2020, wich includes other small posts in Tanaff, Salikégné, Diaobé and Pata, volunteers have welcomed and supported more than 1,500 migrants. It was set up as part of the 'Assistance and protection of the most vulnerable migrants in West Africa' project. Funded by the European Union, the project covers different busy migratory routes through Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali, Niger and Senegal. In addition to the National Societies of these countries, the project also involves the IFRC, Spanish Red Cross, Danish Red Cross and Luxembourg Red Cross. -- For more information, visit our migration and displacement webpage to learn more about the IFRC’s migration policies, programmes and operations

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18/07/2022 | Article

Healing the invisible scars of the Ukraine conflict: IFRC and European Union launch mental health project

According to the WHO, one in five people are affected by mental health disorders in post-conflict settings. If left without treatment and adequate support, people from Ukraine face long-lasting effects that could harm themselves, their families and communities. “Wounds of war are deep, sometimes too deep to manage alone,” says Nataliia Korniienko, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). As a Ukrainian herself who had to leave the country when the escalation began, she understands firsthand the stress faced by those fleeing conflict. “People are craving for someone to take the time to sit alongside them in their pain, but this often lacking for many fleeing Ukraine right now.” In a regional initiative to meet this massive need, National Red Cross Societies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and Ukraine have joined forces to offer mental health and psychosocial support services to more than 300,000 people from Ukraine. Funded by the European Union and with technical assistance from the IFRC and the IFRC Psychosocial Centre, the project connects vulnerable people with mental health professionals and volunteers from the six National Societies. Support is offered in Ukrainian and other languages through various platforms, including helplines, mobile outreach and in-person group activities. Materials on psychosocial support in several languages are also going to be distributed among mental health professionals and the public. Since the first days of the conflict, Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have been assisting people at border crossing points, train stations and temporary shelters – listening and demonstrating empathy, sharing life-saving information, and taking care of vulnerable people. Aneta Trgachevska, acting Head of Health and Care at IFRC Europe, said: “We try to reach everyone in need in a convenient, personalized way. Assistance will not be limited to just a couple of calls or meetings—a person will receive support as long as we are needed. This kind of early response can alleviate symptoms and prevent people from developing serious levels of distress or even mental health conditions.” -- The content of this article is the sole responsibility of IFRC and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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01/11/2022 | Press release

Survivors stranded at sea: SOS MEDITERRANEE and IFRC call for maritime law to be respected

The Ocean Viking – a search and rescue ship chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE and operated in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – rescued 234 women, children and men from six boats in distress in the central Mediterranean between October 22 and 26. “People rescued in the central Mediterranean by ships should and must be allowed to disembark in a Place of Safety within reasonable time as is the case for search and rescue operations conducted by authorities and merchant ships. The ever-worsening blockages faced by rescue ships in this stretch of the sea since 2018 are discriminatory and unacceptable. Keeping survivors onboard ships hostages of political debate longer would be the result of a dramatic failure of European members and associated States,” says Xavier Lauth, SOS MEDITERRANEE Director of operations. “The people rescued are absolutely exhausted, dehydrated, with psychological distress, and some requiring immediate medical attention. We provided health care, food, water, hygiene items, psychological first aid and opportunity to call and connect with family members. But they cannot afford to wait any longer, this uncertainty is making the situation unbearable with stress growing day by day. They urgently need a port of safety,” says Frido Herinckx, operations manager with IFRC. People’s right to promptly disembark in a Place of Safety suffers no debate. The current blockage in the disembarkation of the search and rescue operations are grave and consequential breaches of maritime law. The international convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) frames Search and Rescue obligations to States and shipmasters in great detail, from the obligation to respond to and coordinate search for boats reported in distress, to the obligation to assign a “Place of Safety as soon as reasonably practicable”. All circumstances are considered, including the obligation for most able to assist States to cooperate in order to identify a place of safety for disembarkation; the obligation to provide assistance “regardless of the nationality or status of such persons” (Chapter V - Reg 33.1- amendment 2004), as well as the fact that “status assessment of rescued persons” should not “unduly delay disembarkation of survivors”. IMO RESOLUTION MSC.167(78) (adopted on 20 May 2004) As per maritime conventions, the Ocean Viking informed relevant maritime authorities at all steps of the search and rescue operations and asked for the designation of a Place of Safety. We must prioritize and cooperate in search and rescue operations for people on the move regardless of their status, including through clear, safe and predictable disembarkation mechanisms for rescued people. SOS MEDITERRANEE and IFRC urge EU members and associated states to respect maritime law, cooperate in the designation of a Place of Safety for the survivors on Ocean Viking and put an end to the suffering of hundreds of men, women and children.

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04/03/2022 | Basic page

ESSN storytelling project

Through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), we're supporting Syrian refugees living in Türkiye to tell their stories about the realities and issues that matter to them. This page is dedicated to showcasing the stories of Ahmed, Asmaa, Noor, Alaa, Farouk, Abdurrezak, Luai and Malak in their own words.

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30/03/2022 | Press release

Launch of ambitious partnership between IFRC and EU: a new model for the humanitarian sector

Brussels/Geneva, 30 March 2022 - An ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) launched today aims to be a new model for the humanitarian sector. In response to the increasing number of crises arising worldwide, the pilot Programmatic Partnership “Accelerating Local Action in Humanitarian and Health Crises” aims to support local action in addressing humanitarian and health crises across at least 25 countries with a multi-year EU funding allocation. The partnership strengthens mutual strategic priorities and is built around five pillars of intervention: disaster preparedness/risk management; epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response; humanitarian assistance and protection to people on the move; cash and voucher assistance; risk communication, community engagement and accountability. European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said: “I welcome with great hope the Pilot Programmatic Partnership with IFRC, a trusted EU partner who shares our vision of implementing efficient and effective humanitarian aid operations worldwide. The funding allocated for this partnership reaffirms the EU commitment to help meet the growing needs of vulnerable people across some 25 countries, in close cooperation with the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. It also confirms our commitment to strategic partnerships with humanitarian aid organizations.” IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said: “Longer-term, strategic partnerships are essential to respond to the escalation of humanitarian crises around the world. We must respond rapidly, we must respond at scale, and we must modernize our approach to make impact. We know that the most effective and sustainable humanitarian support is that which is locally led, puts communities at the heart of the action, and is resourced through flexible, long-term and predictable partnership. The pilot Programmatic Partnership allows exactly that.” The Programme will begin with an inception phase in several countries in Latin America, West and Central Africa and Yemen. The main objective is to provide essential assistance to those currently affected by humanitarian crises, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters and conflict and to prevent loss of lives and suffering. Investment is also made to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with disasters through the implementation of disaster preparedness and risk reduction components. Working closely with its National Societies, the IFRC’s global reach combined with local action, its long history of community-driven humanitarian work and its Fundamental Principles, make it the partner of choice for this Pilot Programmatic Partnership with the EU. Following the first phase of implementation, the Programme aims to expand its reach and include additional countries around the world with the support of more EU National Societies. Key facts The 10 countries of implementation in the inception phase are: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Yemen, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. The seven National Societies from the EU working to support the implementation of the inception phase are: Belgian Red Cross (FR), Danish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, Luxembourg Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross. For more information In Brussels: Federica Cuccia, [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, [email protected], +41 79 895 6924

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30/03/2022 | Basic page

Programmatic Partnership

The Programmatic Partnership is an innovative and ambitious three-year partnership between the IFRC, many of our member National Societies, and the European Union. Together, we support communities worldwide to reduce their risks and be better prepared for disasters and health emergencies.

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25/01/2022 | Article

Cash and livelihoods: a winning combination for long-term sustainability and support to refugees

By Deniz Kacmaz, IFRC Turkey, Livelihood Officer Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population in the world. More than 3.7 million Syrians have sought refuge as well as 330,000 under international protection and those seeking asylum, including Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, among others. With the conflict in Syria now entering its twelfth year with few signs of change, means that we are not just looking at a humanitarian emergency anymore, but on long-term resilience. Since the refugee influx began in Turkey, the Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) has been taking a leading role in the response. As of April 2020, Turkish Red Crescent through its KIZILAYKART platform and IFRC run the largest humanitarian cash programme in the world, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), funded by the EU. This programme has helped more than 1.5 million cover some of their most basic needs, covering their groceries, rent and utilities, medicine and their children's school supplies. But humanitarian emergency cash assistance can only go so far. There is also a need to focus on longer-term resilience. This is why we are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. From humanitarian cash to longer-term resilience We are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. This means being part of the labour market to meet their own needs and rebuild their life without depending on social assistance, including the ESSN. We must focus on long-term solutions where refugees, supported by the ESSN, gain their power to stand on their feet and become self-reliant again. I have been working at IFRC Turkey Delegation for almost two years helping identify gaps and find opportunities to empower people's socio-economic capacities. This approach helps ensure they are resilient in combating challenges in the future, including the devastating socio-economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and general obstacles around employment opportunities. We have seen in many contexts when refugees are able to build their resilience and self-sufficiency, they can contribute even more meaningfully to the local economy. When they benefit, we all benefit, including host communities. What are we doing to bring this long-term solution to the lives of refugees? As of April 2021, we have launched referrals that link people receiving cash assistance through ESSN with a plethora of livelihood trainings and opportunities in Turkish Red Crescent community centres. The 19 community centres across Turkey offer support to both refugee and host communities, including work permit support, vocational courses such as sewing; mask producing; various agricultural trainings; and Turkish language courses and skills trainings. These services are critical to breaking barriers in the local markets. The community centres connect skilled individuals to relevant job opportunities by coordinating with public institutions and other livelihood sector representatives. The ESSN cash assistance provides support to refugees in the short term while giving them opportunities to learn new skills, which can lead to income generation in the long term. How do we conduct referrals from the ESSN to livelihoods? There are many sources where families are identified for referrals, some of the most common are: Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) Service Centre 168 Kızılay Call Centre Direct e-mail address to the TRC referral and outreach team Identified potential individuals among ESSN protection cases Field teams including monitoring and evaluation and referral and outreach teams who are regularly engaging with those benefitting from ESSN In the first months of combining cash assistance with longer-term programmes, we have supported more than 1,000 refugees. Some have been referred to employment supports including consultancy for employment and work permit support, while others are attending language courses, vocational trainings, and skills development courses through public institutions, NGOs, UN agencies and TRC’s community centres. Though we have developed a robust livelihood referral system, collectively, we need to make stronger investments in social economic empowerment in the future. While we continue to work on improving our programming and referral mechanisms, as IFRC, we are also reaching out to agencies, civil society, donors, and authorities tolook at how we can: increase investment in socio-economic empowerment in Turkey, mitigate barriers to employment for refugees, and create greater synergies between humanitarian and development interventions. It is this collective effort that will deliver the longer-term gains necessary for both refugee and local communities in Turkey to thrive. -- The ESSN is the largest humanitarian cash assistance program in the world, and it is funded by the European Union. The ESSN has been implemented nationwide in Turkey in coordination and collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies (IFRC). We reach more than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey through the ESSN, and we give cash assistance to the most vulnerable populations to make sure they meet their basic needs and live a dignified life. The Turkish Red Crescent with its 19 community centres throughout Turkey supports millions of refugees as well as host communities. The Centres provide several courses, vocational trainings, social cohesion activities, health, psychosocial support, and protection services, among others.

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18/01/2022 | Press release

#PowerToBe campaign launches to help shift perceptions of refugees

Ankara/Berlin, 18 January 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a campaign to tackle negative perceptions of refugees at an increasingly critical time across Europe. The #PowerToBe campaign follows four passionate Syrians living in Turkey – Hiba, a musician, Eslam, an illustrator, Ibrahim, a swimmer and Mohammed, a coffee lover – who are regaining control of their lives through the help of monthly cash assistance funded by the EU, ultimately giving them more power to be themselves. The four protagonists each meet digitally with influential people from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Portugal and Poland who share a common passion for music, art, water sports and coffee. The campaign shows how people from all walks of life can connect with one another at eye-level despite differences in language or backgrounds. In the #PowerToBe campaign, fifteen-year-old drawer Eslam speaks to well-known German illustrator Steffen Kraft, Italian street artist and painter Alice Pasquini and Swedish street artist Johan Karlgren about her passion for illustration. “Drawing a lot helped me to show the world, even if only a little, what happened in Syria,” Eslam said. Ibrahim, who became paralyzed during the conflict in Syria, connects with Polish professional high diver, Kris Kolanus about the freedom and boundlessness they both feel in the ocean. “Even though many things can hinder me, I am trying to do something. For next year, I’m preparing myself to swim the competition across the Bosporus.” Mohammed, a father of two, talks to Turkish coffee bean suppliers Hasibe and Ümit about his passion and memories associated with coffee. “When we came to Turkey to an empty house, we had nothing at all. Some Turkish brothers helped us, gave us some furniture.” They tasted his coffee and told him it was “the best they’ve ever had”. Hiba, who now attends a music school in Istanbul, connected with Portuguese singer-songwriter April Ivy, whom she wrote and sang a song with. “I like to give people hope because whatever struggles we go through, there are actually nice things happening as well,” Hiba says. Turkey is currently home to the world’s largest refugee population with almost four million who are trying to rebuild their lives. About 3.7 million of those are Syrians who fled the conflict that has devastated their country. Funded by the European Union, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is the biggest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and provides monthly cash assistance via debit cards to nearly 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey. The ESSN is implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC in coordination with the Government of Turkey. The cash assistance helps give refugees some relief from an exceptionally challenging year where many are facing deepening debt and poverty due to the secondary impacts of COVID-19. Cash assistance helps give people like Hiba, Eslam, Mohammed and Ibrahim freedom and dignity to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to invest back into communities that host them, supporting the local Turkish economy. This year we have seen vulnerable refugee communities slip further into hardships, but we also see their hope and strength. Through this campaign, we wanted to highlight the contributions and resilience they have despite all the challenges. When given the right support, refugees’ potential is endless. Jagan Chapagain IFRC Secretary General Hiba, Eslam, Ibrahim and Mohammed were forced to leave everything behind, but have held on to their dreams and continued to pursue them with passion. The ESSN programme offers a critical lifeline to them and 1.5 million other vulnerable refugees in Turkey, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We are proud to see the tangible difference it makes by giving them the opportunity to make choices for their lives. Janez Lenarčič EU Commissioner for Crisis Management More information Click here to download more information about the #PowerToBe campaign, including short backgrounds on each of the people receiving ESSN assistance and the influencers taking part. You can also visit the #PowerToBe website and learn more about the ESSN on our website here. To arrange interviews, please contact: In Berlin: Samantha Hendricks (Social Social), +49 1577 495 8901, [email protected] In Turkey: Nisa Çetin (Turkish Red Crescent), +90 554 830 31 14, [email protected] In Turkey: Corrie Butler (IFRC), +90 539 857 51 98, [email protected] In Turkey: Lisa Hastert (ECHO), +90 533 412 56 63. [email protected]

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03/12/2021 | Press release

EU and IFRC support people affected by the water crisis and drought in Syria

Damascus, 3 December 2021 – In response to the severe water crisis and drought in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 748,000 CHF (709,000 EUR) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. The European Union is providing CHF 158.000 (150,000 EUR) in humanitarian funding to assist the most affected people. The funding is part of the EU's overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The funds released to the IFRC will help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) cater to the humanitarian needs of 15,000 people with food and health interventions over six months in Al Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor, which are some of the most affected localities. Since January 2021, Syria has been witnessing extreme drought conditions coupled with unprecedented low water levels of the Euphrates River leading to poor agricultural production and loss of livelihoods. Millions of people are now experiencing worsening food insecurity and increasing malnutrition rates. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and community health promoters will distribute food parcels and engage in hygiene promotion and disease prevention through awareness-raising about waterborne diseases and COVID-19. Background Through the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the European Union provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. The European Union is signatory to a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal. The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF.For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and EU humanitarian aid enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million. For more information, please contact: Rana Sidani Cassou, Head of Communications – IFRC MENA: Mobile +41766715751 / +33675945515 [email protected] Anouk Delafortrie, Regional Information Officer – European Humanitarian Aid MENA: Mobile +962 777 57 0203 [email protected]

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02/12/2021 | Press release

€325 million boost to EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme, reaching 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey

Thursday, 2 December: Ankara, Turkey - More than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey will continue receiving critical support thanks to a €325 million boost from the EU’s largest humanitarian cash programme, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the Turkish Red Crescent Society in close coordination with the Government of Turkey. In a press conference today in Ankara, Turkey, Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “Thanks to new EU funds announced today, we will be able to continue the ESSN programme throughout 2022. This support is a critical lifeline for thousands of families, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. This cash assistance enables them to decide for themselves what they need most urgently, whilst contributing to the Turkish economy.” Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world, many of which are Syrians. The ESSN has been providing monthly financial assistance via the “Kizilaykart” debit card since 2016, helping families cover their most essential needs, such as food, rent, transport and medicine. The additional funds from the European Commission will continue until early 2023. Refugee families currently receive 155 Turkish Lira (about €10) monthly per person with additional quarterly top-ups based on family size, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover what they need while contributing to the local Turkish economy. The cash assistance, which is aligned with the existing Turkish safety net, currently supports around one-third of the vulnerable refugee population in the country. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said: “We are seeing the destructive secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for those most vulnerable, including refugees. We’ve heard from families who are making impossible decisions – between covering their bills, feeding their families, or keeping their children in school. Now more than ever, this cash assistance is critical – it is a lifeline for so many.” New research from Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC has shown that debt levels among refugees in Turkey have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began with just under half of those surveyed not having an acceptable food consumption, a 20 per cent increase in the last year. The cash assistance from the ESSN is providing an important buffer, with one in two people saying it has helped them manage their debt. Dr. Kerem Kınık, President of Turkish Red Crescent said: “Many vulnerable groups are facing one of their most difficult years, living in hard conditions. Many have come to Turkey for safety. Continued support to the ESSN will ensure families can keep a roof over their children's heads, feed their families and help them get through these difficult times.” AV materials Photos from the visit Additional b-roll on the ESSN programme Background European Union: The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by disasters and crises. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, reaching 150 million people in 192 National Societies, including Turkish Red Crescent, through the work of 13.7 million volunteers. The IFRC acts before, during and after disasters to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. The IFRC has been leading large-scale cash programmes for decades in response to a broad spectrum of disasters around the globe. The Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey, helping vulnerable people in and out of disasters for years, both in the country and abroad. Since 2012, the TRC has been providing first-line response to the refugee influx, supporting millions of people in camps and urban settings. Through their leading cash team and the “Kizilaykart” debit card, the TRC supports millions of vulnerable refugees and Turkish communities to cover their basic needs. The Turkish Red Crescent, IFRC and EU work in coordination with the Government of Turkey and its Ministry of Family and Social Services. The Government of Turkey is an important partner of the Emergency Social Safety Net programme, which is linked to the existing social system in Turkey. The country hosts the world’s largest number of refugees, and the Turkish Government plays a leading role, with regards to the response to the Syria crisis. For more information or to arrange an interview: European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: Lisa Hastert, +905334125663, [email protected] IFRC: Corrie Butler, +90 539 8575198, [email protected] Turkish Red Crescent: Nisa Çetin, +90 554 8303114, [email protected]

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30/07/2020 | Article

World Friendship Day: Turkish and refugee children share letters and drawings with the ones they love

COVID-19 may be preventing us from connecting with the ones we love the way we want to, but it has allowed us to appreciate and treasure each other that much more.This World Friendship Day, we asked Turkish, Syrian and Yemenis children in 5 different cities to connect with their best friend by sending them a drawing or letter. Here is what they said. Omar's letter: "Mylovelyfriend, Hello, howareyou? Ihaven’tseenyoufortwomonths. How isyourfamily? Whichplacesdidyougoto? Whatdidyoudoduringtheholidays? I amreadingQur’anandattendingsomecourses. IwatchTVandplayedwithmysiblingduringtheholidays. Imissedyousomuch.Youhavebeenmybestfriend.IlearnedTurkishfromyou.Youalwayshelpedmewithclassesatschool.Youareaverygoodperson.Thankyouforbeingmyfriend. Yourfriend, Ömer Arda's letter: "My dear friend, I’m so happy that I met such a person like you. You are a very good friend and you will be my friend forever. I wouldn’t know the real meaning of friendship without you. I love you most for this. I am proud of you so much that I don’t even need another friend. Because you have been my best friend. Always remember that I love you so much because I won’t forget you. Your dear friend." Zeyneb's letter: "Dear sister, Even if we weren’t born in the same territories, we don’t speak the same language, even if our skin colours are not the same... We smile together under the same sky and the same sun with our eyes full of love. With the most strong chord that bound us to each other, love and friendship. I love you my friend, my sister With love, Zeyneb" Enas' letter: "Friends are a gift from God. There are two kinds of friends. A good friend and a bad friend. The poorest person is the one who doesn’t have any friends. Roses die, irons can be broken but friendships never die and get broken. Finding the right friend with morals is important for my future. My friend, I hope my words get to you. You were my best friend to me but if there were no separation, I wouldn’t stop my friendship with you. You were the only friend who is noble and with whom I don’t want to separate. Some people say best friends are those who stay apart so that they can keep their friendship. I love you, my dear friend. Enas" Text on the drawing reads: A person who has no friend is a poor person (top left). The real friendships are like stars, they are only visible when there is darkness (top right). Roses, tulips and all the other flowers die eventually. Iron and steel get broken but stay strong. Friendships never die or get broken (bottom left). Friendship doesn't have to be about being close to each other, the important thing is hearts being close to each other (bottom right). Children across Turkey - some wearing a Syrian flag and others a Turkish flag, live happily together in while a migratory bird brings them balloons. (Drawing: Şuğra) Adnen's letter: "My dear friend Şuğra, I love you so much. I am giving you a present at this time. We spend a great time together. You are a sibling to me." The text on the drawing reads: "My friend, I love you, my dearest friend." (Drawing: Adnen) Letters written by Ahmed (L) and Efe (R) about the story of their friendship. (Photos: Ahmed, Efe ) Ahmed's letter: "To my dear friend, I love you very much. I’m having so much fun when I’m playing and talking with you. As our ancestors say, 'tell me about your friend and let me tell you who you are'. When I first met you, I hit your head with a ball. We used to fight but always make peace in the end. We always sat together since our first year at school. Our teacher would sometimes be angry at us, but we never got angry with each other. We were in the same classroom for 4 years, my dear friend Efe. I am so happy that we are friends. Ahmed" Efe's letter: "Hello Ahmet, Today, I am writing a letter to the person with whom I became friends after starting to live in a different city and neighbourhood. I mean, to you ?. Do you remember? Our friendship started after the football you were playing with hit my head ? Later we always ran after that football together with you. We also took our new friends with us. In our first year at school, we always sat together and shared our food. I even came to your house one night and we jumped on the bed until we get tired ?. We were getting along with each other so well. Maybe we understood each other better as we both came to a new city and atmosphere. I taught you folk dances and you taught me the soldier game. We still play when we are together. To whomever I told about the game, they liked it. In the game, everyone would hold their own hand. The one starting the game would sing the song ‘’Soldiers eat tomatoes, whom they want to shoot’’ Whoever is there when the song ends would choose someone and touch another one. The game used to go on until everyone is dismissed. Close friends could give life to each other. We always gave life to each other and tried to stay in the game. The fourth grade has ended. We will start at secondary school. You will go to imam hatip secondary school and I will go to another one. Maybe our schools are separated now, but we keep giving life to each other and staying in the game. Because we are getting along with each other so well. I’m happy that we met. You are a great friend. I didn’t know that a football hitting my head would let me meet my best friend. I hope we will play more football games in which we run after the same football with you. Take care of yourself. If you can’t, my all lives are yours, you know it! Goodbye… Your best friend, Efe " Two children, holding Syrian and Turkish flags, join hands while larger Turkish (left) and Syrian (right) flags are seen in this drawing. (Drawing: Emine) Emine's letter: "Hi, I hope you are fine. While writing this letter, I want to tell you that I miss you so much. You are not a foreigner but siblings to us. One doesn’t need to share the same blood tie to be siblings. Love is a feeling that doesn’t require a kindred ship or being born from the same mother and father. Friendship is so important. Please take care. Goodbye." Letter written by Mohammed in Turkish in an address to Emine is shown in this photo. (Photos: Mohammed) Mohammed's letter: "Hi Emine, First of all, I want you to know how happy I become while reading your letter. I also miss you so much. You are also our brothers and sisters. We love you so much. We are so happy to be with you. Please also take care, Cheers" Two stick girls are standing next to a building, label as "school" in Turkish in this drawing, accompanied by a heart-shaped eyes emoji on the right side. (Drawing: Rüyanaz) Rüyanaz's letter: "My dear friend Lima, I love you so much. Schools were closed. I missed you and my teacher very much. We used to play games and spend good time together. I hope coronavirus goes away and w ego back to our school. I love you my dear friend Lima. Take care of yourself. Kisses, hope to see you soon. Goodbye." Two girls holding flowers standing next to an apple tree while the sun is shining, birds fly by and a turtle wanders around flowers. (Drawing: Lima) Lima's letter: "Rüyanaz, I love you so much. You are my best friend at school. I loved you when I first saw you. I missed you, my school, my teacher and my friends so much. I hope coronavirus goes away and we go back to our school." Two girls are hugging each other in this drawing marked with the painter's name; Meysem at the bottom. (Drawing: Meysem) Meysem's letter: "I am writing a letter to Hatice with my all feelings. To my most beautiful, sweetest and honest friend. You are my relative and sister in humanity. I write all these words by being faithful to the beautiful says we spent together and our love. My friend Hatice, I want to tell you that you are so important to me. My papers are beautiful when they are filled with your name. We are friends forever." Two girls, sitting close to each other on a tree branch, watch birds fly by. (Drawing: Elif) Elif's letter: "Dear Syrian friend, First of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Elif Nur. I really love reading books and spending time with my friends. We may face some changes in our lives but this is the rule of life. We had experienced malice called COVID-19 and that led us to be separated from each other. However, I think friendship is about feeling that love in our hearts even if there is a distance between us. Please don’t forget this! Good and peaceful days will come one day for sure. I am hoping to see you in this beautiful and peaceful times. Your loving friend, Elif" Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC are helping to normalize the lives of many refugees and host communities, including children, in Turkey. These children benefit from the Turkish Red Crescent Community Centres, funded by European Union Trust Fund MADAD, and some receive support from the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), funded by the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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12/06/2020 | Article

Opinion: COVID-19 — it’s time to take cash to the next level

By Caroline Holt Jobs are being lost. The restrictions on movement that are keeping people safe from the coronavirus are often damaging or destroying their livelihoods and their ability to feed and care for their families. Around the world, the most vulnerable people are facing a stark and possibly deadly choice: Do they risk contracting COVID-19, or risk not feeding their families? As humanitarians, how can we help prevent families from having to make this impossible choice? In Turkey, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, or IFRC, and the Turkish Red Crescent surveyed some 500 Syrian refugees being supported by our programs. We found that 69% have lost their jobs, their expenses have skyrocketed, and their biggest concern is how they will feed themselves and their families. More than half of these households are borrowing money to cover their most basic needs — including food. Right now, vulnerable communities across the world need extra support quickly, safely, and reliably. Due to the scale of this crisis, there is a very diverse range of groups and individuals being badly affected, and their needs are equally diverse. We must be able to provide flexible support that can adapt to these different needs. Delivering cash to the people in most need and in close coordination with national social protection systems is the most appropriate way to respond to the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 around the world. We all know and talk about the benefits of cash, especially now in these difficult times. Yet the latest estimates suggest that less than 20% of humanitarian relief is currently delivered through cash programming. The immense impact of COVID-19 is a wake-up call for us to change this. There is no better time to tap into the power of cash as a critical link between economies and households, and it can become a lifeline for millions of people globally. The current pandemic has shown us that without health, there is no economy. It also shows us that without access to financial support, it is harder for people to reduce health risks or recover their health once lost. "Giving cash gives people the choice of prioritizing their own needs and contributing to their communities." Giving cash to people facing crisis helps address a wide range of needs — from rent, food, and education to hygiene items that help prevent diseases from spreading or encourage access to health care. It allows them to prepare, prioritize, and take care of their families, based on their own preferences and decisions. By alleviating the stresses on families struggling to meet their basic needs, we can help them avoid negative coping mechanisms that could put them at further risk of COVID-19. Cash programming allows us to respond rapidly and at scale while still protecting the people we serve, our staff, and our volunteers in communities around the world. Through the European Union-funded Emergency Social Safety Net program, Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC are providing monthly cash assistance to more than 1.7 million refugees. Transferring funds through this existing infrastructure can allow us to rapidly respond and adapt to current needs and provide additional assistance when needed at a massive scale. In the Africa region, IFRC is supporting at least 20 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to deliver cash through popular mechanisms such as mobile money to provide immediate support to families. The cash will help people invest in and strengthen local economies — a key to their road to recovery — as well as jump-start livelihoods when the restriction on movement allows. For cash programming to work effectively and be accountable to the people our sector serves, we must be embedded at the community level. More than ever before, the challenges faced by international organizations in deploying on the ground during the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need for an ever-increasing localized approach. Because of their everyday work, volunteers know — with or without immediate physical access to communities — which people are most vulnerable, most at risk of falling through the gaps of existing social safety nets. Despite the current sense of urgency, the humanitarian sector should resist the temptation to replace or duplicate national governments’ social protection systems but rather collectively invest in existing systems and help to reinforce them. We must advocate to make social protection systems more flexible, relevant, and inclusive. Ever since the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, the importance of localization and of scaling up the use of cash, the need for change, and the necessity of innovation have been at the top of the humanitarian sector’s agenda. Nothing about the way humanitarians are working and operating during this pandemic is business as usual. We are having to reinvent the way we respond in this crisis and set aside the traditional modes and methods of support. More than ever, we need to work with affected populations and acknowledge that they are best placed to lead their own path toward a new normal. Giving cash gives people the choice of prioritizing their own needs and contributing to their communities. With all these advantages available through cash programming, it is time for humanitarians to take cash to the next level. *This opinion piece was originally published on on June 12, 2020. This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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28/04/2020 | Article

5 ways that cash assistance has transformed humanitarian response to refugees in Turkey

Many people affected by humanitarian crises think their priority needs are not being met by humanitarian aid. Cash assistance is one critical approach that is helping responders better put the needs and capacities of affected people at the heart of humanitarian action.For the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, it has become an integral part of our work. Most recently, with funding from the European Union, the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC are implementing a unique cash-assistance programme in Turkey. It enables more than 1.7 million most vulnerable refugees to meet their basic needs and rebuild their lives. The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme provides a blueprint for how cash assistance can be better used in the future. 1 - It is people-centred (Photo: Turkish Red Crescent) According to a Ground Truth Solutions survey, almost half of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh sold in-kind assistance offered to them so that they could use the money to purchase goods and services they need. Cash puts an end to aid being limited to the goods and services that humanitarian organizations deliver and gives people the freedom to spend the cash on what they need most. Providing affected populations with cash means more than addressing their true needs, it also means dignity. Having an option to buy the things they need in a shop rather than waiting in a queue for goods also gives the aid recipients a sense of normality that has been lacking from their lives due to conflict. “The cash assistance is granting us freedom of choice and returning a degree of dignity to our lives.” -A refugee receiving cash support from ESSN (WFP report from 2018). Cash assistance also offers them the most important opportunity, having control over their own recovery. Refugees who take ESSN cash assistance are less likely to consult to negative coping strategies like reducing the quality and quantity of the food consumption, getting into debt and taking their children out of school. 2 - It’s more cost-effective and can ultimately, reach more people (Photo: Turkish Red Crescent) Delivering cash assistance often costs less than delivering in-kind assistance thus reaching more people in need. How much money is required to manage an operation? How much money is required to transport and store aid in a warehouse? By taking advantage of digital payment systems (like debit cards and SMS) cash-based assistance can greatly reduce costs spent on logistics, transportation and human resources. Compared to the previous humanitarian basic needs assistance provided, the ESSN resulted in significant reductions in administrative costs, leading to at least 90 per cent of all ESSN funding going into the hands of those in need and reaching as many as 1.7 million people. 3 - It empowers local economies and communities (Photo: WFP) Supporting people in need with cash also means supporting the host population. As the migration deeply affects those seeking safety, it also creates a completely new situation for the hosting community. Use of cash-based assistance can help people in need to support local markets. This can greatly reduce possible tensions, increase support for humanitarian aid from locals and spark the first steps of integration. Although there is room for development, the ESSN has the potential to influence social cohesion between refugees and host communities, according to a WFP study. About half of the refugees who attended focus group discussions said that they had established good relations with their Turkish neighbours. 4 - It is easy to deliver (Photo: Turkish Red Crescent) Conflicts, natural disasters or health emergencies - each bring with them difficult conditions to work in, including challenges in access. If markets are not too weak or supply is sufficient, cash enables assistance to vulnerable people in extraordinary times. Operating under the current conditions of COVID-19 poses many challenges, particularly with restricted or forbidden movement of goods and resources. Sending cash to refugees digitally limits the risk of infection to those we serve as well as host communities and our frontline workers. 5 - It enables a more effective, efficient, and transparent humanitarian sector (Photo: Turkish Red Crescent) Cash assistance ensures humanitarian organizations are more accountable to both donors and affected people. It increases the transparency of operations by showing how much aid actually reaches the target population. It also addresses people’s true needs as it gives them the ability to decide what they require. In April, Turkish Red Crescent’s ESSN hotline answered 1.2 million calls, sent more than 1.3 million SMSs and reached out to more than 85,000 refugees thorough its multilingual Facebook page. ESSN monitoring data indicates that the awareness amongst refugees of the ESSN and its application procedures is very high and only a small proportion of refugees lack information on the ESSN at any point in time. The use of easily verifiable demographic criteria satisfies the donors need for transparency and accountability, while also ensuring that refugees themselves have full information on why they are (not) included in the ESSN program. --- As ESSN’s unique approach and scale shows cash is people-centric, makes the most out of limited budgets, increases the speed and flexibility of the humanitarian response, improves local economies, reaches the most vulnerable even in insecure environments and enables us all to be more accountable to the people we serve. Cash doesn’t replace all humanitarian services. However, under the right circumstances, cash offers a massive opportunity for us to put communities’ at the centre of our response. This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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24/04/2020 | Article

Weaving a new life together in Turkey

Textiles from Syria - a rich blend of blues, yellows, reds, and creams - have long been treasured by families, merchants, and travelers since the era of the Silk Road. But nine years into the country’s conflict, most textile factories have been destroyed, and its artists have been displaced. Bassam Wais operated a textile factory in Aleppo until the destructive effects of war became unbearable for him and his family. They left their home with the few things they could carry and started from scratch in Turkey’s own textile hub Bursa more than five years ago. (Photos: Turkish Red Crescent) Adjusting to a different culture, finding their way in a different city and learning a totally new language was not easy. But monthly cash assistance received from the Turkish Red Crescent has given the family what they needed to better integrate into Turkey’s society and begin a new life. Without the worry of paying rent, Bassem had time to learn Turkish, taking courses offered by the Turkish Red Crescent. Bringing his artisan skills to Aleppo’s textile scene, Bassam landed a job in a factory and quickly climbed into a senior-level position in a couple of years. He is now responsible for more than 200 machines. Bassem’s ambition has inspired his son, Ömer, who gained work experience at a mechanic shop, using his ability to speak both Turkish and Arabic to expand their customer base, including more Arabic-speaking customers. Small investments in families like Bassem’s reap many rewards. By supporting their basic needs at a critical time, they have been able to contribute to their communities as artists, entrepreneurs, and consumers. Much like the beautiful textiles of Syria, Bassem’s family have been able to weave together and enrich their own “colours” into society. More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme Funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are providing monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. This is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC. ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, they receive 120 Turkish Lira (18 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. *This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s website and adapted by the IFRC. This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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